Manuel Puig’s 1976 seminal novel, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”, was first adapted by the author into a play and subsequently became an Oscar winning film and a Tony award winning musical. Puig is a key figure in LGBTQ+ history and the current production at A Noise Within is a great opportunity to see why. It’s also been a very long time since anyone has produced the play rather than the musical.
The story is set in a dank, cramped prison cell during the Argentinian military junta where we meet two male prisoners – Molina, a gay, perhaps trans, window-dresser arrested for gross indecency, and macho political activist Valentin. The unlikely pair form a friendship, first out of necessity, which evolves into something beautifully layered, complex and erotically charged.
In order to survive his current dire circumstances, Molina re-enacts entire films from memory for his audience of one, Valentin. It’s a welcome distraction for both men. They also discuss politics, their families, lovers and friends. When Valentin is taken ill, the men further bond as Molina tenderly cares for him. But all is not what it appears and both men’s courage and convictions will be tested.
Ed F. Martin captures Molina’s vulnerability, grace, humor and humanity in a performance that is achingly raw and beautiful. Adrián González brings a desperation, passion and a potent sexuality to Valentin. The two create a searing intimacy that is brutally honest and at times simply breathtaking.
Michael Michetti’s taut direction builds the intensity while delicately balancing the most intimate moments. The tango-inspired score by Alex Mansour sets a sensual tone and the realism of the Tesshi Nakagawa set makes one feel as though you are a fly on the wall of this tiny cell watching this relationship unfold. It’s a gorgeous production worthy of your time.
“Kiss of the Spider Woman” runs through April 23 at A Noise Within located at 3352 East Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena. Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays at 8:00, Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00, and Sundays at 2:00. Visit
ANoiseWithin.org for tickets and information.